Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of "heroic" adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton—leaving Goblin all alone!
It's up to Goblin to save the day. But first he's going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.
Hatke's hero is both homely and easy to love. Goblin is a stumpy figure with a toothy underbite and distinctive dietary preferences: "He gnawed on an old boot for breakfast, and he thought about the day ahead." But it's not an ordinary day; during a congenial visit with his best friend Skeleton, marauding adventurers sweep through Goblin's subterranean dungeon and take everything, including Skeleton. Goblin resolves to pursue them. "Be careful," warns his neighbor, a troll. "Nobody likes a goblin." It's true: humans and elves give chase ("a disgusting little goblin!"), but then Goblin finds some goblin allies who are impressed by the crown he's wearing (Skeleton let him borrow it), and together they rout the villains. Hatke (Little Robot) renders the characters' antic facial expressions, their fairy tale costumes, and the fantasy landscape with polished skill, and his story gallops along cheerfully with the clear prospect of a happy ending. Especially gratifying is Hatke's casting of reviled characters as heroes; without moralizing, he makes it clear that sometimes it's the most unassuming creatures who have the warmest hearts. Ages 4 8. Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency.